Hit game Minecraft to stay private

Mon Feb 4, 2013 4:55am EST
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By Mia Shanley

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - A pool table, a pinball machine, board games and Lego dot the offices of Mojang, the small Swedish company behind the wildly popular Minecraft video game, and one of its founders is wearing a tuxedo and purple tie on a recent "formal Friday".

The atmosphere reflects the independent spirit that has contributed to the raw identity of the game that has just sold 20 million copies. The founders want to keep it that way.

Mojang, the Swedish word for gadget, has so far resisted selling to a bigger player or listing on the stock market even though that could mean monster payoffs for the 25-person staff and funding to expand dramatically its games.

"We are living the dream, really," Carl Manneh, 35, one of the three founders told Reuters. "An exit would be huge, but do we really need that money? In our case, we have the cash flow. We have more money than we need."

"We've always felt that the independence we have is one of our core strengths. We can take decisions by going into a room and in 15 minutes we're done. We try to be extremely agile, to release games quickly."

The strategy contrasts with other regional developers including Swedish video gamer DICE, sold to The Sims publisher Electronic Arts in 2006, or Rovio, the Finnish start-up behind Angry Birds which may soon be listed for $6-9 billion.

Analysts said Mojang's approach makes sense for now.

"It's such a small seed of an idea, but which works very powerfully, so they do not need to scale up to several hundred people to bring this to the audience in new ways," said Steve Bailey, senior games analyst at IHS Screen Digest.   Continued...

A coder plays a pinball machine game during a break in the Mojang company office in Stockholm January 18, 2013. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins